Tag Archive for: weather

Snow, Rain, Rainbows, and Writing Fiction

By AB Plum

Taxes. Traffic. Too many people. Californians departing the state routinely cite these facts of life as reasons for leaving. Few—in the San Francisco Bay area at least–ever mention the weather. Our sunny days and mild temperatures rival the Mediterranean. In other words, expect the same o’ same o’ temps and sunshine day after day. (OBTW, we do have four seasons in the Bay area).

This year, though, we’ve seen rain every day for the past month. Not the kind of gully washers Florida and other parts of the country experience, but slow, steady downfall that has turned our world vibrant shades of green. And given us some amazing rainbows. Every color is distinct—and dangerous because too many drivers stop and gape.

Mosey up into the foothills a few hundred feet and find enough snow for at least one good snowball or a teeny, tiny, itsy, bitsy snowperson—without the sub-zero temps.

What do any of these observations and comments have to do with writing?

They remind me of how often I read novels with little or no mention of the weather (considered borrrring, right?). Personally, I like to use the weather as a metaphor for a relationship or a specific place or a cosmic reminder of how insignificant we humans are. I like trying to capture moments of being wet or sweaty or freezing or burning up while the main character tries to overcome an obstacle unrelated to the weather. 

One of the joys of writing fiction for me lies in amplifying a snowstorm, making it the “storm of the century.” I love writing about rains that have characters checking on how to build an arc—or ready to lose their minds because of the constant hammering on the roof. One of my favorite scenes is a heat wave that drives the overheated couple into her swimming pool. The water fairly sizzles.

More rain predicted here this afternoon, and I plan to go search for a rainbow. I need to write more about rainbows.

What about you? Do you find weather scenes boring? Do you prefer minimal weather descriptions? Do you have a favorite scene featuring the weather?

****AB Plum lives in the Mediterranean climate of the San Francisco Bay—within the shadow of Google, which returned a surprising number of hits for the search “writing weather scenes in fiction.”

Barbara Plum, AB’s alter ego, used the tornado in The Wizard of Oz as inspiration for a “new twist on love and the red slippers” in her Weird Magic Trilogy.

When All the World is Protesting….

Is it just me or is everything in the world spinning and changing so fast it’s almost impossible to keep up? I’m exhausted.

Dictatorships are falling in large part to their citizens’ use of Facebook and Twitter to organize protests. Egyptians have toppled their government. The world is holding its collective breath as we wait for the next despot to be exiled, holding out hope that the end result will be better than the original. Libya? Bahrain? Iran? What country will be next? What will the world look like next year?

Proposed deep budget cuts in the U.S. federal government and state government services are going to affect all U.S. citizens. Congress is setting up for a government shutdown unless compromise can be accomplished. The protests in Wisconsin over budget cuts are only the first for state governments. The state agency I work for in Oklahoma is facing consolidation with another agency and massive budget cuts if our newly elected Republican Governor has her way with a Republican majority house and senate. I think her chances are pretty good! Citizens will have to decide if they really want the changes that are coming. Yes, elections have consequences. I’m just not sure everyone understood how the changes would affect them personally.

Because of my day job for a state agency I’m acutely aware that President Obama has just this past year geared up federal environmental agencies for a massive change in the interpretation of existing environmental laws. His new policies would open the door for direct federal enforcement of those new interpretations, ignoring state laws and programs. The result of the direct enforcement would be massive loss of jobs and industry. The states are pushing back, reminding the federal government that they can’t change laws or create new laws via policy statements. But so far they’ve turned a blind eye and deaf ear to our protests and attempts to reason with them. The whole issue is heading for court. In the midst of this battle, suddenly the President creates a new White House working group to protect jobs from unnecessary federal regulations. He wants to reduce regulations that stifle business. What the [insert appropriate curse word] is going on? The President needs to learn what his right hand and his left hand are doing.

Oh, by the way, Happy Presidents Day! Sigh.

Before the year is over we’ll know what government services are really important to us. The public libraries that survive over the next five years will do so because they find additional sources of funding and attract new users. They will have to add more digital content, e-readers, and many more computers. Public schools? I’m not sure what they are going to do. Class sizes will increase, teachers will be laid off, and kids won’t have desks, chairs, or books.

Brick and mortar bookstores are disappering. You might not be able to find a bookstore in your favorite mall. The local independents are hanging on by a thread. The publishing giants are rushing to accommodate the ebook revolution as authors self-publish their own books via electronic platforms at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and Smashwords. I was speaking with a friend who collects first editions and autographed books. She wonders if the next generation will find any value in her old fashioned “print” book collections.

And of course on top of all the other turmoil, there’s the weather. Should I mention the crazy weather? Everyone has had some this year. This month Oklahoma went from a normal 6 or 7 inches a year to 20-some odd inches of snow in a two day span. Then the weather flip flopped with one town registering a -20 F. (actual temperature not wind chill) to a week later registering a very muddy 80 F.

I don’t know what everyone else is going to do, but this seems like the perfect time to escape to the more rational world of fiction. I’m going to read, write, and hope next year is, if not better, at least calmer.

aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries – e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- KindleNookSmashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords

The Sullivan Investigation Series
Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)
Murder Takes the Cake- PaperbackKindle
Murder Off the Books- PaperbackKindle
Riley Come Home (short story)- KindleNookSmashwords

Weather and Other Items of Interest … or Not

Hubby and I just returned from the Central Coast (California) community of Arroyo Grande. The weather was wonderful! Sunny and gorgeous. As we drove down the coast, the ocean sparkled. People who want to visit California beaches would be smart to go in February when the weather is often sunny as can be. In the summer, often the fog rolls in, making it chilly.

The weather was quite a contrast to the previous weekend when we were in snowy Chicago. We loved that too, though. In fact, I thanked the organizers of Love is Murder, our reason for being there, for having such a lovely snow storm for our entertainment.

The reason we were in Arroyo Grande was for me to participate with the Central Coast chapter of Sisters in Crime in a library presentation–which I did, of course. I’m always up for talking about my books and meeting new people. A chance to go to the coast was a huge incentive. We used to live in Oxnard (which is near Ventura) about one mile from the beach, and frankly, I miss the proximity to the ocean.

It was in Oxnard that I first became interested in writing about law enforcement. Our first house was in a neighborhood with police officers, firemen, and Navy personnel and their families. We partied and had coffee with our neighbors and got to know them all very well. Years later, my youngest daughter married a police officer who loved to tell me stories about what happened on his shift–he even took me on a tour of the police station and on a rather scary ride-along.

In my Rocky Bluff series (much darker than my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series), I’ve drawn quite a bit on my experiences from the days I hung out with those policemen and their families. If you’re interested, here’s a video about the latest book, Smell of Death,


And to bring this back around to the beach, the Rocky Bluff series is set in a fictional beach community somewhere on the coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara–with some resemblance to Oxnard back in the time when I lived there.

Traveling around to promote books is fun, though not at all profitable. What I truly like best is meeting new people and my travels have been a great way to do it.

Now, back to working on my income taxes. Ugh!